The Dallas Stars are putting Tuesday’s ugly 6-1 loss in Game 3 behind them and moving on to Thursday’s Game 4 at Scottrade Center.
“Just focus on tomorrow,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after Wednesday’s practice in St. Louis. “I think what we’ve done through the playoffs, we’ve had some bad periods, and we’ve been able to flush them and be ready to go. The atmosphere in that room is great. There’s always disappointment. We’re a team that’s learning how to balance the emotion of not getting too high and not getting low. We’ve played some pretty good hockey when we’ve played a disappointing period here and there.”
Tuesday’s loss was the most lopsided of the season for the Stars, and it was a rough night for the Dallas defense, which coughed up some pucks that led to St. Louis goals. But Ruff said he is confident in his defense and confident the group will bounce back.
“This is a group that’s done really well,” Ruff said. “You could focus on those mistakes and say I could take so-and-so out. St. Louis could focus on the mistakes that a couple of their key defensemen made in the first couple games and think the same thing. No. You’ve got to keep running. This isn’t the time of year to panic or get upset. I have options at my disposal. This group has taken us a long way. Did they have a tough night? Yeah, they had a tough night. But like I said, they’ve done a great job of bouncing back.”
Special teams remain an issue for the Stars. They are 0-11 on the power play in the series while the Blues are 4-14 with the man-advantage. All four of the Blues’ power-play goals have come in the past two games, both St. Louis victories.
“It’s something we’ve got to improve on, and we’ve got to make it happen quick,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We’re both good teams and special teams is going to make a difference in this whole series, and I think it has so far.”
The Stars were 0-4 on the power play in Tuesday’s game and managed just one shot on goal during the four opportunities.
“I thought our structure was better, but I thought we buried our heads and shot a few that we shouldn’t have shot,” Ruff said. “We’ve got some changes with Tyler [Seguin] out and [Patrick] Eaves out. We tried a little different setup, and when you’re trying these setups and you haven’t practiced it, there’s a little adjustment time. They’re working hard at it. They haven’t made a lot happen, but we’re going to keep working at it.”
Thursday’s Game 4 will be a pivotal one for the Stars. Win and they head back home tied in the series. Don’t win and they find themselves in a 3-1 hole.
“We’re sitting at 2-1. We win tomorrow and we put a lot of pressure on them going back into our building,” Ruff said on The Ticket Wednesday evening. “That’s our only focus – to get Game 4 and even this series back up and get home ice in our favor.”
Blues forward Bryan Reaves blew a kiss towards the Stars bench after his fight with Dallas forward Curtis McKenzie late in Tuesday’s game. On Wednesday, the Stars were asked about Reaves’ gesture.
“It’s something you don’t forget throughout the rest of the series,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It is what it is. They can do whatever they want, and he chose to do that. We’re going to move on as a group and focus on not him but Game 4.”
“I think the players note that. Yeah, I think they do,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Our guys were embarrassed last night, and that’s stuff you take to heart. That’s stuff you use. We’re a proud team.”
Stars forwards Patrick Eaves (leg) and Tyler Seguin (lower body) remained in Dallas Wednesday. Both players skated again, but they won’t be options for Game 4, according to Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
Seguin has been out since Game 2 of the first-round series against Minnesota when he suffered an injury related to the Achilles injury that kept him out the final ten games of the regular season and the series opener against the Wild.
Eaves has missed the past two games after taking a hard shot off his lower leg.
“I think Hitch is like the peanuts on top of the bar. They’re complimentary. And I’m not buying into that part.”
- Stars coach Lindy Ruff when told Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Tuesday’s game was closer than the 6-1 score
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.